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Jan 252011

From Green Right Now Reports

The organic gardening gurus and sustainability experts at Rodale probably aren’t big plastic users.

Plastic stuff. Too often it's used for a short time, then relegated to the trash, where it lasts and lasts.

But like all of us, they’ve acquired their share. Plastic is so ubiquitous. So this next month, the folks at Rodale, which publishes a variety of popular magazines like Prevention, Men’s Health, Women’s Heath, Organic Gardening, Runner’s World and Bicycling are calling a moratorium on plastic.

During February, they’ll avoid buying or acquiring any more plastic things.

It won’t be easy. Look at the everyday stuff the staff at the publishing house will be trying to avoid:

  • Plastic bags and plastic-wrapped sandwiches
  • Plastic water bottles
  • (This is my favorite one) Plastic-encased plastic-package-cutting scissors (think about it for a minute).
  • Cooking or storing food in plastics, because this is a key way that plastic compounds get into our bodies.

Follow Rodale and friends’ Plastic-free February progress at Rodale.org or on their Facebook page.

Why cut back on plastic? Let’s begin with how it’s made, from fossil fuels, oil and natural gas, whose extraction can take a heavy toll on the environment.

Then there’s the matter of the end product, which can be toxic, as the Rodale site notes. Certain plastics when heated have been shown to leach  bisphenol A or phthalates, both of which are linked to hormone disruption in humans.

Finally, think about where plastic ends up. In the landfill. There it can persist, as waste for hundreds of years, and also may leach chemicals into groundwater.

Glasslock's "Go Green" storage set is one of many available.

Here are a few suggestions to lower your plastic load.

1 — Store foods in glass. This avoids any problem with BPA or phthalates, which leach into food or beverages when you add hot liquids or foods to plastic containers. Glass won’t leach, and unlike many plastics used in food storage (#5 plastics, for instance) it’s fully recyclable.

You might just save water, too, because a glass dish can go directly from fridge to microwave, reducing the containers required for leftovers.

2 — Use a reusable tote bag at the grocery store instead of plastic bags that are rarely recycled and too often end up floating around our natural spaces.

Choose one that’s made from a good quality natural fiber and it will be washable, and usable for years. Like this one made of renewable hemp from Reuseit.com.

Klean Kanteens help keep plastic bottles out of the trash.

Fill it up, roll it up, wash it. It should last and can be cleaned whenever needed.

3 – Ditch the plastic water bottles. It’s easier than you think. The water in most brands is no better than tap.

Check out Klean Kanteen if you’re looking for a sturdy reusable water bottle. They make ‘em in all sizes, with different drinking caps. Try a 12 oz. bottle for your lunch box.

4 – Use recyclable hangers. Yes, hangers can be recyclable. Plastic hangers might have been an advancement over wire, which can get tangled and stretch out clothes in weird ways. But there’s been further advancement. Ditto hangers are made from recycled paper and recycled plastic (but it’s PET plastic, which is the most recycled plastic and not toxic).

Ditto Hangers can replace plastic hangers, and will return to the earth after they've been used.

These hangers can be sent out in the paper recycling when you’re done with them, but they’re sturdy and constructed to last a long time.  They come in adult and infant sizes. You can buy them online at dittohangers.com or at various retailers, such as Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon.

(OK, technically you haven’t gotten completely away from plastic with these, but the plastic being used is both recycled, and the friendlier #2 plastic. Think regular hangers aren’t a problem? Many used in retail are discarded after only days of use, and many others are made of plastics that cannot be recycled, and contain toxic compounds. See the life cycle story of traditional hangers and Dittos at the Ditto website.)